Simon Stephan

Research Scientist in the field of Cognitive Science at the University of Göttingen

About me

I am a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Göttingen working in Michael Waldmann’s Lab of Cognitive and Decision Sciences. I’m very much interested in how minds learn and reason about the causal relationships in the world. Given that causal relations are neither directly observable nor logically deducible, how do reasoners manage to learn about causes and effect so successfully? How do they use this knowledge to make predictions, diagnoses, or to explain things? I’m also fascinated by the more general quesetion of how minds form and use categories.

On this website I share information about my academic life. You’ll find an up-to-date CV, my publication list, and information about recent/ upcoming presentations (e.g., conference talks).

Interests

  • Computational Cognitive Science
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Causal Cognition
  • Learning and Reasoning
  • Statistical Inference

Education

  • PhD in Psychology, 2019 University of Göttingen
  • MSc in Psychology, 2014 University of Göttingen
  • BSc in Psychology, 2012 University of Göttingen

Grants, Honors & Awards

  • 2017 Computational Modeling Prize - Higher Level Cognition Awarded by the Cognitive Science Society
  • 2016 Leibniz-ScienceCampus Grant, Project: The relationship between causal and moral judgments
  • 2015 Leibniz-ScienceCampus Grant, Project: The role of intentions in children’s and adult’s causal ascriptions

Teaching

  • Winter terms (since 2014/15): Statistical Methods I Seminar As part of the first year undergraduate psychology statistics class
  • Summer terms (since 2015): Statistical Methods II Seminar As part of the first year undergraduate psychology statistics class
  • see also https://quantigoettingen.github.io/quantigoettingen



Recent Talks & Conference Presentations

2021

  • Poster presentation [virtual] at CogSci 2021: Evaluating general versus singular causal prevention (July 2021, Vienna)

  • Talk [virtual] at Becog Colloquium: Computational/ mathematical modeling in cognitive science (April 2021, Göttingen)

  • Talk [virtual] at CPI-Lab: The interplay between covariation, temporal, and mechanism information in singular causation judgments (Feb 2021, Tübingen)

2020

  • Talk [virtual] at CIC-Lab: Interpolating Causal Mechanisms - The Paradox of Knowing More (Apr 2020, Stanford University)

2019

  • Talk at CRISP-Lab: What made this happen? A computational modeling approach to answering causal queries about singular cases (Dez 2019, Heidelberg)

  • Talk at ANaP-Lab: Computational Modeling and Progress in Cognitive Science (Oct 2019, Göttingen)

  • Talk at ESPP 2019: The Role of Effect and Sample Size in Causal Induction (Sep 2019, Athens)

  • Poster at Euro CogSci 2019: The Role of Effect and Sample Size in Causal Induction (Sep 2019, Bochum)



Selected Publications


All publications

Forthcoming

  • Stephan, S., & Waldmann, M. R. (2022). The role of mechanism knowledge in singular causation judgments. Cognition, 218, 104924. Advance online publication.

  • Skovgaard-Olsen, N., Stephan, S., & Waldmann, M. R. (in press). Conditionals and the hierarchy of causal queries. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

  • Placì, S., Stephan, S., Waldmann, M. R., & Vallortigara, G. (pre-print). The fundamental role of gravity in the categorization of geometric objects.

  • Stephan, S., & Waldmann, M. R. (in press). The interplay between covariation, temporal, and mechanism information in singular causation judgments. In A. Wiegmann, & P. Willemsen (Eds.). Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Causation. London, UK: Bloomsbury Press.

2021

  • Gerstenberg, T., & Stephan, S. (2021). A counterfactual simulation model of causation by omission. Cognition, 216, 104842.

  • Stephan, S., Placì, Sarah & Waldmann, M. R. (2021). Evaluating general versus singular causal prevention. In T. Fitch, C. Lamm, H. Leder, & K. Tessmar (Eds.), Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1402–1408). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

  • Stephan, S., Tentori, K., Pighin, S., & Waldmann, M. R. (2021). Interpolating causal mechanisms: The paradox of knowing more. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Advance online publication.

2020

  • Stephan, S., & Waldmann, M. R. (2020). Causal scope and causal strength: The number of potential effects of a cause influences causal strength estimates. In S. Denison., M. Mack, Y. Xu, & B.C. Armstrong (Eds.), Proceedings of the 42th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 3426 - 3432). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

  • Stephan, S., & Waldmann, M. R. (2020). On causal claims, contingencies, and inference: How causal terminology affects what we think about the strength of causal links. In S. Denison., M. Mack, Y. Xu, & B.C. Armstrong (Eds.), Proceedings of the 42th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 3419 - 3425). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

  • Stephan, S., Mayrhofer, R., & Waldmann, M. R. (2020). Time and singular causation - a computational model. Cognitive Science, 44, e12871.

2019

  • Stephan, S. (2019). Answering causal queries about singular cases - an evaluation of a new computational model. (Dissertation) <span title=“dissertation”

2018

  • Stephan, S., Mayrhofer, R., & Waldmann, M. R. (2018). Assessing singular causation: The role of causal latencies. In T.T. Rogers, M. Rau, X. Zhu, & C. W. Kalish (Eds.), Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1080 - 1085). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

  • Stephan, S., & Waldmann, M. R. (2018). Preemption in singular causation judgments: A computational model. Topics in Cognitive Science, 10, 242–257.

2017

  • Stephan, S., & Waldmann, M. R. (2017). Preemption in singular causation judgments: A computational model. In G. Gunzelmann, A. Howes, T. Tenbrink, & E. Davelaar (Eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1126-1131). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. (Computational Modeling: Higher Level Cognition Award of the Cognitive Science Society).

  • Stephan, S., Willemsen, P. & Gerstenberg, T. (2017). Marbles in inaction: Counterfactual simulation and causation by omission. In G. Gunzelmann, A. Howes, T. Tenbrink, & E. Davelaar (Eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1132-1137). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

2016

  • Nagel, J., & Stephan, S. (2016). Explanations in causal chains: Selecting distal causes requires exportable mechanisms. In A. Papafragou, D. Grodner, D. Mirman, & J.C. Trueswell (Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 806-811). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

  • Stephan, S., & Waldmann, M. R. (2016). Answering causal queries about singular cases. In A. Papafragou, D. Grodner, D. Mirman, & J.C. Trueswell (Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2795-2801). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

2015

  • Nagel, J., & Stephan, S.. (2015). Mediators or alternative explanations: Transitivity in human-mediated causal chains. In D. C. Noelle, R. Dale, A. S. Warlaumont, J. Yoshimi, T. Matlock, C. D. Jennings, & P. P. Maglio (Eds.), Proceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1691-1696). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

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